Which Fats are Healthy?

Author: Henrik Aulbach



Lesezeit: 4 min

There are fats that are healthy and desirable in a healthy diet. On the other hand, there are fats that can, for example, promote atherosclerosis and inflammation. Since there is a lot of confusion about this topic, let's finally clarify: Which fats are healthy?

Unsaturated Fats Should Be Preferred Over Saturated Fats

Most nutrition labels provide information about how much unsaturated and saturated fatty acids are present. In the future, you should pay attention to as much unsaturated fatty acids as possible compared to saturated fatty acids. Primarily, you promote your heart health this way. Unsaturated fats can help lower cholesterol levels and therefore reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. This can result in more HDL cholesterol compared to LDL cholesterol.

Unsaturated fatty acids can also increase the feeling of satiety. This could lead to fewer cravings, for example.

Furthermore, unsaturated fatty acids could also have a positive impact on insulin sensitivity. This could help mitigate blood sugar fluctuations, potentially leading to fewer instances of hunger attacks.

Healthy Fatty Acids: Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids

The terms omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are often confusing. Omega-6 fatty acids themselves are not unhealthy. The issue is that we consume comparatively more omega-6 fatty acids in relation to omega-3 fatty acids. However, both are essential fatty acids that our body cannot produce on its own and therefore must obtain through diet.

Omega-3 fatty acids are divided into three main types: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). ALA is mainly obtained from plant sources like seeds and nuts, while EPA and DHA predominantly come from animal sources.

Omega-3 fatty acids can have anti-inflammatory effects, thus minimizing inflammation throughout the body. Furthermore, they are of great importance for the health of the heart, brain, and eyes . DHA, in particular, is needed for the baby's brain and eyes during pregnancy. Lastly, omega-3 fatty acids play a crucial role in cell membranes.

Omega-6 fatty acids are typically present as linoleic acid. Important sources include sunflower oil, corn oil, and soybean oil. Omega-6 fatty acids possess pro-inflammatory properties, which is why omega-3 oils are necessary to balance them. Recommended ratios of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids are from 1:1 to 1:4. In the diets of most people, the ratio is rarely below 1:10.

Avoid Unhealthy Trans Fats

Trans fats are certain fats that are produced during industrial processing when liquid vegetable oils are transformed into solid fats. These can negatively affect health since they are pro-inflammatory and raise LDL cholesterol levels while reducing "good" HDL cholesterol. Typical sources of trans fats include:

  • Margarine
  • Fried packaged foods
  • Baked goods
  • Snacks
  • Cookies

Examples of Healthy Fat Sources

The easiest way to incorporate healthy fats into your diet is by replacing unhealthy fat sources with healthy fat sources. Therefore, let's start by providing an overview of healthy fat sources that you can easily integrate into your daily nutrition. Here's the list of healthy fats:

  • Avocado: Delicious avocados are rich in unsaturated fatty acids and also contain versatile fibers, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Fatty Fish: Salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, and tuna are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, making fish oils, for instance, recommended for preventing heart diseases.
  • Olive Oil: Not only is olive oil rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, but it also contains many polyphenols that can have anti-inflammatory effects. So, treat yourself to extra virgin olive oil.
  • Nuts: Almonds, walnuts, raw peanuts, and pistachios are excellent sources of healthy and unsaturated fatty acids. They also often contain a good amount of protein to help prevent protein deficiency.
  • Seeds: Seeds are often overlooked in everyday diets, yet they provide us with numerous oils. Chia seeds, flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, and pumpkin seeds are excellent fat sources that can adorn a variety of dishes.
  • Eggs: Eggs contain healthy omega-3 fatty acids. It's worth choosing eggs from organic farming because the hens' diet should be rich in omega-3 fatty acids. 
  • Dark Chocolate and Cocoa: Cocoa is often forgotten as a healthy food and a source of high-quality fats. Dark chocolate with a high cocoa content is the perfect snack alongside nuts and seeds.

Conclusion: Which Fats Are Healthy?

In conclusion, you should make an effort to avoid trans fats as much as possible. Animal-based trans fats are rare but are considered healthier than industrial trans fats. So, don't worry if you read about trans fats in beef and fat.

Furthermore, you should focus on consuming more omega-3 fatty acids to maintain a healthy balance between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Lastly, you should opt for unsaturated fats and minimize the intake of saturated fats.

Which Fats Are Healthy: Frequently Asked Questions

Why Does the Body Need Fat?

Fat serves numerous functions in the body:

  • Fat functions as an energy source.
  • Fats are components of cell membranes.
  • Fatty deposits protect our organs.
  • Fat-soluble vitamins can only be absorbed with fats.
  • Hormones contain fats or fatty acids.
  • Fat tissue insulates heat.
  • Our brain consists to a large extent of fats.
  • Healthy fats can mitigate inflammation reactions in the body.

Which Oil Is the Healthiest?

There isn't one healthy oil that's the healthiest. However, the following options are often discussed:

  • Olive oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Flaxseed oil
  • Walnut oil
  • Sesame oil
  • Hemp seed oil

Which Oil Is Best for Frying?

You can choose an oil for frying from the list above. Olive oil is often recommended for frying, coconut oil is also suitable. Hemp seed oil can impart a nutty flavor to dishe

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